Listening During Crisis
How different techniques can help your organization hear your clients better
Crises can arise from both inside and outside your organization. In the latter case, it is likely you have little, if any, control over the cause. But in both cases, your organization can choose how to respond and adapt. During crisis management, listening to key audiences (including organization members, stakeholders, and clients), will improve your response. In order to listen most effectively during a crisis, you need to listen with intent. This means knowing what kind of listening you’re doing.
Active listening is the most commonly discussed kind of listening. The goal is to obtain a complete picture of what the speaker is saying. This involves not only understanding and remembering their words, but also their nonverbal communication and information they have omitted. While listening actively, it is important to defer judgment, give feedback that proves your understanding, and when the other party is finished speaking, provide a response. In times of crisis, it is natural to feel upset when your organization is criticized. However, by deferring judgment and providing feedback, you increase trust among your audience. And if you have listened well, then your crisis response will address any audience needs and many additional concerns. The active listening process is ongoing, and it is likely that you will repeat this process several times as the crisis unfolds.
In cases where your organization has limited control over your response, it may be most appropriate to engage in empathetic listening instead. Like active listening, empathetic listening requires understanding what a speaker is saying without judgment and giving feedback. The goal of empathetic listening is to provide speakers a safe place to process their emotions. Empathetic listening can help your organization maintain trust among your audience, even during times of crisis.
Social listening is also increasingly common. Social listening involves monitoring mentions and conversations relevant to your organization that happen in public online spaces. While any organization-related social media account will automatically have access to direct mentions (like being tagged), social listening broadens your scope. This can be especially useful in real-time crisis identification and management--gathering information from people on the ground and getting responses out to the public as quickly as possible. It can also give you perspective on how widespread a crisis actually is (for example, your direct mentions may be full of responses, but through social listening, you may discover few people are talking about the issue otherwise). Your organization may not have the capability to fully maximize your use of social listening, but even monitoring relevant hashtags and doing manual keyword searches will help keep you more informed.
By engaging in the types of listening discussed above, your organization will maximize its potential to listen effectively during a crisis. By doing so, you ensure your crisis management will be as effective as possible.
Pulse is a tool that can make crisis listening easier. Once set up, the kiosks are accessible to clients at any time. This means that even if your staff is too busy to collect feedback in person, it can still be given. Moreover, information gathered through the kiosks can help identify new client problems early, before they develop into full-blown crises. Additionally, clients will be empowered to provide insight into solutions. Using Pulse kiosks, your clients can trust that you are always listening to their needs.